The following is a guest blog post by Kelsey Kerstetter, Career Advisor at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Kelsey loves assisting students to reach their fullest professional potential through every stage of their career development. In today’s post she writes about what Millennials really want and it’s not Foosball tables and Xbox games at the office.
Technology transfer is gaining traction as an exciting career path for the newest generation of workers, the group known as millennials. In order to work with and effectively manage millennials, we must first understand what motivates them. Though no two millennials will be the same, below are five themes that describe the ideal work environment for most of this generation, and incorporating these into your management style can lead to a more efficient and ideal work environment for all.
Benefits Millennials Want
Millennials want to make a difference, so it is important to have ideals and values that align with this. If millennials do not feel like their company is doing something good, they may decide it is not a place they want to be, and will be unmotivated to perform at their highest level. Share the company values, and make sure they know the higher purpose of their work.
A Team Approach
This is the generation that grew up with organized sports, ballet classes, and school productions. Everything was organized around the team. Millennials want to feel part of a team, and be able to go to others for advice and feedback. They need to know that others are behind them, and that the goal is for the whole team to succeed, not just certain individuals.
Feedback, Good & Bad
Many people have the misconstruction that millennials do not like to hear that they are doing something wrong. This simply is not true – how can millennials expect to improve if no one tells them what they need to change? The goal is to give feedback in a constructive way, and to give it in a non-accusatory manner. Chances are, the millennial has no idea what they are doing is “wrong,” so your feedback is important. At the same time, be sure to acknowledge what is going well. Many managers have the mindset that the person is there to do their job, and if they are doing it well there is no need to give feedback. This approach does not always work for millennials – they take pride in their work and seek the approval of their manager. Something as small as, “You did a great job with your presentation – I know it can be stressful to talk in front of a large group,” will mean more to your millennial than you may think.
Millennials are learners. They want people they can look up to, and people who want to see them succeed. This may be you as the manager, or perhaps there is someone else in the company that you think could offer great advice. Encouraging mentorship and networking creates a space for millennials to develop as professionals.
Their Own Schedule
Millennials are not lazy; they want to work hard. They also know what environment they work best in, and they want to be able to create their own schedule to maximize productivity. The normal 9-5 schedule does not always work for them. You will find some millennials coming in at 7am, working through lunch because they value their afternoon free-time and leaving at 3pm. Others will eat their lunch at their desk and go for a run, or take an exercise class mid-day, because they value incorporating physical activity into their day. Others may go home on their lunch break to rest. No two millennials recharge in the same way, so it is important for managers to embrace and encourage work environments that help them work their best. If the work is getting done and to a high standard, managers should encourage autonomy to choose the work environment that works best for their supervisee.
Not all work environments are able to accommodate every single item above, but integrating one or two could make a big difference for your millennial. This is a generation that wants to change the world, and in a field as important as technology transfer, we need people motivated to be the best they can be. Creating a work environment that caters to helping millennials be their best self will be a win-win-win – for the millennial, the manager, and the tech transfer field.